Thursday, June 21, 2012

Math Throughout the Week, Month and Year!

Hi! This is Sarah from The Fabulous First Grade and I am SO excited to be guest blogging for Casey today. Lucky girl is laying out on the beach somewhere! (I'm barely jealous)

Anyway, since math is one of my FAVORITE subjects to teach, I thought I would share with you about some ongoing math projects that you can do throughout the week, month, or year. These projects are so exciting for the kids because they get to see the progression from day to day and trust me, they notice!

Weekly, one of the activities my kiddos and I did was an estimation jar. I know, I know, old news, everyone does an estimation jar...but, we put a little twist on it.

Our beautiful estimation jar is an old peanut butter container. HA! I just hate the idea of using glass and it breaking since I let the kids handle it themselves. Plus it travels to and from homes and that just makes me nervous! Unfortunately I don't have pictures of my jar, but here are a few examples!

So the first week of school, I put something fairly large in the estimation jar (like marshmallows, gummy worms, cotton balls, etc.). In addition, I put one of whatever we are estimating in a baggie to the side for the kids to handle. One of my professors in college stressed: "It's not estimation if the kids to not have something to manipulate to make an educated choice, otherwise it is a guessing jar!" Some things just stick!

I give the kids 2 chances to make estimations throughout the week (usually it's during morning work or dismissal time) and then on Friday morning, right after calendar time we are just itching to see who was closest. In the beginning of the year, I just write all the numbers on the board and we find the winner that way. I will give you examples of how in depth you can go with it a little later. Here are the slips that I give the kids to write their estimations on!

So we have a winner! So the student gets to take the estimation jar home, eat/play with whatever is inside, and then their job is to bring it back on Monday with something new inside! I have never had a problem with the students bringing it back because they are so excited about it.

Later in the year, we plotted our results on line plots and we made line graphs, we studied the bare minimun of mean, median, and mode, fractions, probability, and so much more! You can almost always fit it into whatever you are teaching about that week!

We also did all kinds of monthly activities. On in particular went along with calendar time, and once again this is no new thing, but we did a daily weather graph. I have to say that because we did this monthly, my kids were STARS at deciphering pictographs, and understanding the concept of more/less, most/least, probability, etc. You would think that they would get bored of it but no way! We used a big class graph, but the students also got their own graph to fil out at their seats. I found that it made them much more accountable for their work! Here is a copy of the weather graph!

One yearly activity we did was a birthday graph. Instead of just posting the kiddos birthdays on a typical birthday chart, I posted them in two different ways. First, I posted each month horizontally along a line, and put the child's name and actual birthdate above it.

Next, I made a hortizonal line that said 5, 6, and 7 year olds. When the child made it to their new age, it was a huge deal to move it to the next year!

So I know that this is nothing brand new and exciting, but they are ideas that are tried and true and they worked really well with my first graders! I hope you enjoyed my post and that you'll stop by my blog to check out some of my ideas! I give away lots of freebies!


Guest Blogger Allie from The Gypsy Teacher

Hi new friends! This is Allie from


I'm here as a guest blogger as Casey is away on vacay (LUCKY HER!!)! Anyways, to give you a little info about myself:
I'm a new blogger- my blog is 3 months old!
I am also a recent graduate, meaning I'm a new teacher!
I'm from Omaha, Nebraska: home of the CWS and the Cornhuskers!
I love all things vintage, bohemian, travel, and crafty!

So now that you know a little about me, I'm going to share a few tips and tricks with you! I'm always looking for new ways to review concepts with my students, so here are a couple ways I've found effective:

1. Snowball Fight
You can review anything using this method. Have your students each get out a piece of paper and write a fact or a math problem. Then, have the students wad their papers up, and on the count of three, they can throw their "snowballs." After they all throw them, they each pick up a new ball and write another fact/math problem. And the game keeps going until you want to stop. At the end, the students will have facts from the lesson, or math problems to solve! You could do this with addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and much more!
2. Task Cards
I'm sure a lot of you use task cards in your classrooms, and math is a wonderful way to use them! I am creating several versions of Task Card Reviews, and my first is Fraction Frenzy! The great thing about task cards is you can put them at your students' levels. This set is for middle to upper elementary students. I have it for you for FREE right now:
Fraction Frenzy
You will see this and others in my TPT store debuting next week!

I hope you can use these review ideas in your classrooms this year! Like I said, I'm just about to debut my TPT store next week! So come on over to my blog, and follow me! When I reach 50 followers I'll be having a giveaway! If you are looking for some fun ways to spruce up your classroom, I try to post once a week at least one DIY classroom idea I've been working on! Thanks for having me, and Happy Summer!

 Follow Me on Pinterest

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Math Inventions

Hello to all of Casey's friends.  My name is Tammy.  I hang out at Forever in First but I love all things math, so I'm happy to be here filling in for Casey while her little toes are playing in the waves on a sandy beach.  (Sigh.)  

I've been on an adventure in math the past two years.  It's stretched my thinking and it's been a lot of work, but it's all worth it when I watch my mathematicians think more clearly and comprehensively about math than ever before.  The way they can solve what I would have previously considered second grade problems amazes me.  They are capable of more than I could have ever imaged.  I've blogged quite a bit about it.  Click on the collage below if you're interested in hearing more.

I've learned how powerful it is when students invent strategies for solving problems instead of being explicitly taught them.  (I'm sorry if that sounds absolutely crazy.  I've blogged about the process, otherwise I'd go into more detail.)  One of the questions that teachers like myself ask when thinking about this approach is  "What do you do when there's a strategy that would be beneficial to your mathematicians, but no one is inventing it?"  I have found that there are often students in the crowd who have sophisticated strategies but don't have a method for documenting them.  They just need someone to match a method to their explanations.  

I have an example of this that's fresh in my mind from the last week of school.  We were doing some morning math on the board.  (We do a math problem with the lunch count every day.  Yep, I've posted about this too.)  Most mornings the kids work out the problem on their whiteboards, but for sake of time, I asked for various strategies while I drew their thinking on the board.  Madison began describing her strategy, and I instantly knew she was using arrow language which was a new strategy for us all.  While she described her thinking, I drew it using this new method.  When finished, I was sure to ask her, "Is this what you were thinking?" because I didn't want to put words in her mouth.  She agreed that it matched her thoughts, and boy was she was thrilled that she had invented a new strategy.  We called it Madison's Way.  

We added Madison's Way to the many other ways that my mathematicians invented throughout the year.  These kids are going to take so many different problem solving strategies into second grade with them, and the best part is that they understand what they're doing because they're the inventors. This is such an exciting way to learn and to teach math!

Thanks Casey for having me.  It was a pleasure hanging out with your friends today!  

Monday, June 18, 2012

Different Names for a Number

Hi! I'm Jenny of Luckeyfrog's Lilypad, and I am super honored to stop by while Casey enjoys her vacation! Thanks, Casey, for letting me be a Math Maniac for a day!

Luckeyfrog's Lilypad

One of the activities we do from time to time in my math class is "Different Names for a Number." I always introduce it by saying that I have different names. The kids call me by my 'teacher name,' but my husband calls me something different, and some of my friends have funny nicknames for me too (I always tell them at least one, which cracks them up).

I ask them to share if they have another name. There's usually a Michael that goes by Mike, or some other nickname that works perfectly. And then we discuss how Michael and Mike aren't suddenly different people- it's the same person, just being called something different.

Well, I tell them, numbers are the same way!

 25 can be expressed as 20 + 5, two tens and five ones, twenty-five, 25 ones, a quarter, 1/100, 75 - 50, two and a half ten frames... the list is endless. And really, they're all the 'same' number- just with different names! And it's so good for kids to think about numbers this way.

My students loved being handed a big piece of construction paper (or chart paper) and markers, and given a time limit to find as many names for a number as they could. We did this a few times at the beginning of the year (which really helped me get a feel for their number sense!), and then occasionally thereafter. They really liked when I connected it to special occasions, like 100 Day (seeing if we could find 100 names for 100!) and my birthday (different names of 25, my age). (Yes, I'm a baby.) When we're not working in groups, I have students brainstorm for 1-2 minutes in their math notebooks, and then share with the people sitting near them.

The great thing about it is that it forces kids to think about what a number really means, and connect many of the different ways we learn about numbers. When a kid writes "sides of a square" as another name for 4, I know they're really drawing connections. And it's a self-differentiating activity- because the kids are trying to come up with something no other group will, they push themselves to think of something new at whatever level they are. In 2nd grade, most of my students were focused on addition and subtraction names. In 3rd grade, with the same activity, I will hopefully see more multiplication, and division.

You can even challenge them to find all of the "addition" names for a number, and see if anyone picks up on a pattern. For instance, the addition names of '4' would be:

4 + 0
3 + 1
2 + 2
1 + 3
0 + 4

And then ask if they are sure that's all of them, and how they know. (Only a few of mine picked up on the pattern before the others mentioned it- you can see one below!)

This is a great little 5-10 minute time filler, once they know how to do it. Easy, valuable, and quick? Yes, please! Great for pre-assessment at the beginning of the year, and even a quick bulletin board in a pinch? Definitely my style.

For more about our math notebooks (and a freebie!), check out my blog, Luckeyfrog's Lilypad. I taught 2nd grade this past year and will teach 3rd this coming year, and as a pretty new teacher, I try to keep things simple but meaningful as much as possible!

My Photo

Thanks again, Casey!

Sunday Shouts Out & Please Welcome My Guest

Showing Some Love: 

It looks like this is going to become a regular gig of mine. I just love sharing what I've been reading, especially now that I am out of school and actually have time to read blogs and not just visit them to steal the freebies. Feel me? 

Anyway, in no particular order:

1. The first shout out is for a blog I recently started following, Splish! Splash! Ms. Lander's Second Grade Class.

She shared this COOL technology thing called Taxedo and with it I made this: 

It is like Wordle ,sort of, but it puts all of your words in a shape. Not sure how I'll use it with students but I had fun making my math vocabulary apple! :)

2. The second shout out is for Little Miss Kindergarten. Shared shared this SUPER dice box on Thursday. I love it.  I'm not sure that its entirely practice for my classroom, we have been using a sandwich for our dice, but I already have one of those plastic boxes that I bought when I THOUGHT that I would become a serious fisherwoman . . . now it has a purpose! :)

3. Amber @ Sparkles, Smiles & Student Teaching did some experimenting with Gummy Bears last week! This would be an awesome addition to a matter unit! 

Introducing a Few New Maniacs!:

So some of you read my post about my trip this week and I asked for some guest bloggers to come and keep my blog alive. I NEVER actually expected to fill ALL 5 days, but I did so get ready for some AWESOMENESS. (I have already read a few of the post that they have drafted, good stuff!) 

So thank you to these ladies for keeping the mania going while my toes are in the water and my bum is in the sand. :)

And now for my favorite tune for Summer 2012, which I will be listening to while I am on the beach this week:

Okay, for those of you who know about Ellie Goulding this song came out in 2010 in think, but I feel like it just recently not big on radio, No?  

My REAL current favorite song is a TOTAL secret because it IS SO kooky, so I just shared this one . . . But I LOVE B.o.B (am I alone?)

Have a great week everyone! :) 

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